While condoms do provide protection against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), some infections can be passed through skin-on-skin contact alone. It is important to get clued up on which STIs you may be at risk of.

The primary function of a condom is to prevent the transmission of bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and blood. In turn, this can help to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during sexual intercourse.

Transmission of most STIs, such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, can be prevented with a condom. When used correctly, condoms are around 98 percent effective, meaning that 2 out of 100 people will become pregnant in a year [1].

However, even if a condom is worn during sexual contact or intercourse, some infections can be passed by skin-to-skin contact. So, let’s discuss three STIs you can catch, even if you use a condom.

Two condoms in packets.

1. Syphilis 

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex. One of the first symptoms of Syphilis is a sore, also known as a ‘chancre’, which forms at the site of infection and can be transmitted to a partner through skin-to-skin contact.

Wearing a condom reduces the likelihood of contracting Syphilis and can be beneficial if the chancre is covered by the condom. However, the infection can be passed if a chancre is not covered by the condom.

2. Herpes

The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal contact with an infected person. The virus can cause sores to appear around the mouth, genitals or anus. HSV-1, or oral Herpes, causes cold sores or fever blisters commonly around the mouth and lips. HSV-2, or genital Herpes, causes sores to form usually around the genitals or anus. During an active outbreak (when you are most infectious), it is recommended to refrain from sexual activity in order to lower the risk of transmitting Herpes to your partner.

3. Genital Warts

Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – a family of viruses of which there are more than 140 different types. While Genital Warts are caused by low-risk types of the virus, high-risk types are associated with several different cancers. HPV can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact with areas of the genitals which are not covered by a condom.

Take care of your sexual health with Better2Know

Better2Know can help you to take care of your sexual health. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to an STI, speak to our highly trained sexual health advisors in confidence today by phone or live chat. Our dedicated team is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you gain peace of mind surrounding your sexual health. We can arrange confidential STI testing with fast and accurate results at a clinic near you, with a private nurse visit, or you can order a convenient home test kit.


[1] NHS: Condoms

[2] Get the facts: Do condoms protect against all STIs?

[3] Self: These Are The STIs That Condoms Don’t Protect Against

[4] CDC: Condoms and STDs

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